Attorney General Bonta Calls on Congressional Leaders to Protect Children Against AI-Driven Exploitation

Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a bipartisan coalition of 54 states and territories in sending a letter to Congressional leaders calling for the creation of an expert commission to study how artificial intelligence (AI) can and is being used to exploit children through child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The coalition asks that the expert commission propose legislation to protect children from those abuses. As the U.S. Department of Justice notes, “The production of CSAM creates a permanent record of the child’s victimization.”

“Artificial intelligence is ushering extraordinary advances in healthcare and other sectors throughout the world. But it is also a tool that poses risks — risks that we need to tackle head-on. Among other concerns, AI can be used to threaten the safety and well-being of our children. I won’t stand for that,” said Attorney General Bonta. “As a father, and as the People’s Attorney, I’m proud to join this nationwide, bipartisan coalition in calling on Congress to do more to protect our kids. We have zero tolerance for child sexual abuse of any sort.”  

The attorneys general write that:

  • AI can be used to exploit children, including by identifying their location and mimicking their voices. For example, with only a short recording of a person’s voice, AI tools can clone the voice and use it to say things the person never actually said. Indeed, scammers have even been able to use AI to aid in fake kidnappings.  
  • Most troublingly, AI tools can create “deepfakes” of children. Deepfakes are fake images or videos that seem real. Among other things, AI can be used to study real photographs of abused children and generate new images showing those children in sexual positions, or to overlay photographs of otherwise unvictimized children on the internet with photographs of abused children to create new abusive content involving both children.
  • While Congress is aware of the threats posed by AI generally, the safety of children should not fall through the cracks. 

Attorney General Rob Bonta is committed to protecting the safety and well-being of children, and to ensuring that AI tools are responsibly developed and regulated. In August 2023, he announced 22 arrests as part of “Operation Bad Barbie” in Kern County, which targeted adults seeking to sexually exploit children by using undercover agents and detectives posing as minors offering sex for pay on online websites commonly used by victims of sex trafficking. In June 2023, he joined a bipartisan coalition in submitting a comment letter to call for AI transparency and accountability. In June 2021, he formally launched the Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Teams (HT/SPAT) within the California Department of Justice to take action against human trafficking.

In sending today’s letter to Congressional leaders, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia. Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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